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Cubs vs. Cardinals Preview, Monday 9/22, 7:05 CT

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The Cubs have one more important mission this year: try to stop the Cardinals from clinching the N.L. Central at Wrigley Field.

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Jonathan Daniel

The Cubs actually have an additional mission beyond trying to prevent St. Louis from a division clincher in Chicago, and that's attempting to avoid a fifth straight 90-loss season.

They will have to win four of the remaining six games to do that. Given their performance against the Cardinals and Brewers so far this year, that seems possible; they're 7-9 against the Cardinals and 9-7 against the Brewers. They've split six games at Wrigley against St. Louis, but lost four of six at Miller Park. On the other hand, the Brewers have been in free-fall and since the Brewers peaked at 19 games over .500 on June 28, the Cubs have played 4½ games better.

Yes, yes, I know. Some of you want a better draft pick. Me, I want the Cubs to win games. They're still likely to get a protected (top-10) pick in the 2015 draft.

Now go out there and beat the Cardinals! Please check out Russ La Croix' excellent series preview if you have not already done so.

Oh, and one more thing. At last, it looks like three straight days at Wrigley with zero chance of rain. I don't think we've had that all year.

Finally, here's your once-a-series reminder to check out (if you haven't already) SB Nation's partner fantasy site, Fan Duel, where you can win real money. Here's the link.

Here are today's particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Coghlan LF, Baez SS, Rizzo 1B, Soler RF, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Alcantara 2B, Kalish CF, Wood P

Cardinals lineup:

Carpenter 3B, Grichuk RF, Holliday LF, Peralta SS, Molina C, Adams 1B, Jay CF, Kozma 2B, Wainwright P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood

Travis Wood


Cubs

vs. Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright


Cardinals

vs. StL

--

vs. Cubs

This will be Travis Wood's final start of 2014. It's been a rough year for Wood after an excellent 2013, so it would be nice to see him finish the year strong and look forward to better things in 2015. Wood's last outing was excellent, six shutout innings vs. the Reds last Monday, although the Cardinals have hit him pretty hard in four starts this year (3.97 ERA in four starts). Here's hoping for good things for Wood tonight.

I was a bit surprised to see Adam Wainwright interviewed on Sunday Night Baseball -- many times, teams will send the next day's starting pitcher ahead when they're traveling after a night game. Granted, it's not that long a flight from St. Louis to Chicago, but the Cardinals probably got into their hotel in Chicago after 2 a.m. Hopefully, Wainwright will be tired tonight. In many other seasons he'd be a prime candidate for the Cy Young Award, but not this year with Clayton Kershaw expected to win unanimously. This will be Wainwright's fifth start against the Cubs this year, and he hasn't been all that good in most of the others, posting a 4.32 ERA and 1.400 WHIP, although the last time he started at Wrigley, July 27, he threw seven shutout innings.

Of course, several of the players who started for the Cubs that day aren't on the team anymore or are injured. So who knows?

Today's game is on WGN.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Cardinals site Viva el Birdos.

For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.

You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.

You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.